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Today we’re talking all about dragonflies! Although they look a little intimidating, they’re actually very cool (and won’t hurt you!). Let’s take a closer look at these misunderstood insects.
Explore the dragonfly life cycle
Believe it or not, dragonflies actually spend part of their life in the water! Click here to watch a video about the dragonfly life cycle. Then, you can click here check out Marjorie’s Story Time featuring “All Eyes on the Pond.”
Guiding Question: Dragonflies go through metamorphosis. Can you think of another animal that goes through metamorphosis? What’s special about the dragonfly life cycle?
Dragonflies vs damselflies
Although dragonflies and damselflies both belong to a group of insects called odonates, they have quite a few differences that can help you tell them apart. As you can see in the photos in this email, damselflies hold their wings together and upright, while dragonflies will hold their wings open or down. Damselflies have round eyes that protrude on either side of their heads, while dragonflies have eyes that lie flat on their head. Also, dragonflies tend to be larger, while damselflies tend to be smaller.
Guiding Question: Compare this photo of a damselfly to the photos of dragonflies. What similarities do you see? What differences?
Guide to dragonflies
It’s hard to notice from a distance, but there are a variety of dragonflies that you can spot in Illinois, and they have a lot of distinguishing markings to help you tell them apart. Click here to check out our common dragonflies guide.
Making a dragonfly discovery
This spatterdock darner was found in Chicago in July 2018 by students in our TEENS program. It was then processed and added to our collections. Since the spatterdock darner isn’t one of our more common Illinois species, it was an exciting discovery!
Behind the Scenes
Our manager of living collections, Lalainya, also runs our Illinois Odonate Survey community science initiative. Through this project we hope to be able to gain a greater knowledge of the distribution and abundance of dragonfly and damselfly species in the Chicago region and eventually to expand the network across Illinois and beyond.
Meet our Partners!
Nature Museum volunteer Tom Collins is the STEAM education leader at British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park. As a museum volunteer, Tom helps preserve collections as a volunteer in the Beecher Lab, but science is more than just a personal passion. In this behind-the-scenes video, Tom explains how science inspired him to become a teacher and how important STEAM education is for children today.
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